ShareThis Page

Penn State passes $2B fundraising goal early

| Saturday, April 12, 2014, 9:21 p.m.

HARRISBURG — Penn State announced Saturday it blew past the $2 billion goal in a seven-year fundraising campaign that has expanded student scholarships, brought a big-time hockey program to campus and built a children's hospital in Hershey.

The university's “For the Future” effort has generated nearly $2.2 billion with more than two months left in the campaign and despite what has been a rough economy and the negative attention brought by the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal.

“This is something that our donors get very passionate about, helping our students,” said Peter Tombros, a biotech and pharmaceutical executive who chaired the campaign. “It's been very important to our history, and it was very important in this campaign.”

More than 600,000 people contributed, which the university believes may be a record. The money has funded more than 91,000 new individual scholarships and awards for nearly 45,000 students. Total pledges for undergraduate scholarships, the top priority, amounted to $519 million.

“Approximately one-third of our student body are first-generation students,” said Rod Kirsch, Penn State's vice president for development and alumni relations. “Penn State is really a ticket for a better experience and a better life for these students.”

The school added $783 million in donations and pledges to increase its endowment.

The campaign included $65 million to build the children's hospital and $102 million to build an arena and establish a Division I hockey program. It also raised more than $175 million to endow faculty positions and programs and more than $175 million for the school's various campuses outside the flagship at University Park.

Penn State brought about 1,300 people to campus in recent days to celebrate the end of the effort that began in 2007.

“The key distinction of this campaign is that we really tried to link the power of philanthropy to the student experience,” Kirsch said.

When the campaign started, its honorary chair was Joe Paterno, the school's legendary head football coach who died in early 2012. Paterno died a few months after the arrests of Sandusky along with two school administrators, accused of a criminal cover-up of complaints about the former assistant football coach. Sandusky is serving a prison sentence for child sexual abuse, while the administrators await trial.

Kirsch said Paterno's widow Sue served on a couple of fundraising committees during the campaign, and the Paternos have made a number of substantial donations.

Nearly 13,000 faculty and staff contributed about $61 million, and the former and current members of the board of trustees kicked in more than $110 million.

On Friday, outgoing Penn State President Rodney Erickson and his wife Sheri added $1 million, which is earmarked for the school's arboretum and to support early career faculty.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.